Leave a comment

Writing Standard Operating Procedures (SOP)

Standard Operating Procedure (SOP)

Standard Operating PRocedure (SOP)

SOP or Standard Operating Procedure is a type of visual or textual document that records the clear set of instructions about the process which is duplicated over and over again. This document contains information in such a manner that a person can operate at the highest level of quality with minimal supervision. In the next section we will see an example of simple SOP.

Why SOP is important

A business involves hundreds of employees and equally large number of processes that requires monitoring for maintaining the quality of the service. Some processes are repeated over and over again in the business and can be executed by different people at any given point of time. To maintain the same standard of quality, it is necessary to know the clear steps to be performed so that if any person who is new to the process should not be spending time on thinking the best possible way of doing the same thing.

Moreover, action performed for a particular task can differ from person to person. Then the question arises, How do we maintain the highest possible standard of the process.

SOP should basically answer for who, what, when, how to perform a given task without compromising on the quality.

Example of Standard Operating Procedure or SOP

Knowingly or unknowingly we follow a sort of Standard operating procedure by ourselves in our day-to-day life. Take for example paying bills online, for the first time probably you will take more time for gathering the log in credentials or opening the payment URL. But if you repeat this process second, third or say 40th time, you probably have bookmarked the URL of the payment option as well as you probably have stored you log in credentials at some place where you can easily refer them.

The point to take here is anything which is clearly defined to perform a duplicate task without any issues can be considered a Standard Operating Procedure.

In commercial businesses, things are not as simple as paying bills online. They can involve handling critical client information or money or assets which is highly confidential and dealing with such information involves highest level of operating knowledge. Each step documented in SOP ensures that those high level of operating standards are maintained all the time and they should not pose any risk to critical client information.

Let us take a look at a simple SOP for checking in to the airport and boarding the aircraft

Written format
1. Proceed towards departure gate
2. Present your personal identification information to the security personal
3. Once entered inside the terminal, proceed towards luggage scanning
4. Stand in queue for the issue of boarding pass
5. Put identification tags on all your luggage including hand bags
6. On issuing boarding pass, proceed towards the security check
7. Place all your electronic equipment on a scanning tray and wait for your turn
8. Proceed towards the security personal for security verification
9. Collect you boarding pass and your belongings and process towards the waiting lounge
10. Show your boarding pass at allocated gate number and board the aircraft

Deviating from any of the mentioned step will cause a possible risk in the whole boarding process. In this case, SOP comes handy where everybody is following the same steps and can also be held accountable if a particular step is not followed properly.

Leave a comment

Create organization chart in Visio

As a diagram platform, Visio has got some very nice templates to start for the basic stuff. In this article, we will learn how to create a basic organization chart using Microsoft Visio.

Selection of a template

First step towards creating a visio diagram is to select a template. Visio has some predefined templates already included for some of the most common diagram use cases. If you don’t want to choose any specific template you can always go ahead with a blank template as well

Vision template selection

Visio template selection

Creating the diagram layout

Once you have selected the template, you will be provided with an option to choose the units (Metric and US). By default, US units will be selected. If you want to change the selection, you can do so by selecting the radio button and then click on Create

Create template

Create template

Organization chart wizard

Once you have selected the metric unit, for this template the data will be associated with an organizational chart wizard. You will be provided an option to choose the existing data to create the chart or create a new data.

Organization chart wizard

Organization chart vizard

Selecting file type

Next step is to select the file type: Excel or Delimited text format. In this case, let us choose the excel format and name it as CompanyStructure.xlsx

Selecting file type

Selecting file type

Enter data in excel

Clicking on next button will show a message that instructs to complete the data setup in excel and then continue with the wizard. The message is shown below in the screenshot

Instruction for data setup

Instruction for data setup

Clicking on OK will open up the excel file with some sample data where you can add your own data further.

Excel Data Setup

Excel Data Setup

Exit Excel and render chart

Once you save you data and exit the excel program, organization chart wizard will ask for including the images. If you don’t want to include any image you can skip this step

Exit excel program

Exit excel program

After clicking Next, wizard comes to the last page where it asks for one more input whether you want to do the page splitting in case you organization is big enough which cannot be covered in a single page diagram. Once you are done with that selection, then click on Finish

Finish Page

Finish Page

After clicking on Finish, Organization chart is rendered in the diagram layout area

Chart Rendering

Chart Rendering

After chart rendering, it just doesn’t finish there. You can add new position or do any other further customization by double clicking on the diagram

Adding new position

Adding new position

Leave a comment

Creating professional diagrams with Microsoft Visio

Microsoft Visio is a powerful tool that allows user to create professional diagrams that helps in structuring the complex information and make it stunningly beautiful for the end-user to consume that information.

Microsoft Visio

Microsoft Visio Screenshot source: Wikipedia

Information templates

An organization consists of different business units like marketing, sales, engineering, customer support, Human Resource, etc and each one of them will have a different set of information flow. For example, marketing will need to show the organization’s business vertical similarly engineering deals with the data model or use case design. Visio does a great job in providing a common platform to cater almost all the needs of an organization.

To quick start the process of creating nice professional diagrams, Visio provide some basic templates for the most common use cases. Some of these templates includes:

  • Basic flow charts
  • Organization charts
  • Detailed network diagram
  • Office layout
  • UML diagram
  • Brainstorming diagram

Different flavors of Visio

Visio Standard is for someone who is basically looking for a good platform for creating professional diagrams. This version of visio consists of rich set of stencils that helps in creating diagrams

Visio Professional is more advanced package of visio that contains all the functionality of standard version. Along with it, professional version contains the collaborative ability where multiple users can work on the same diagram. Also, user can link the data to the diagram which helps in rendering the diagram in real-time.

Visio Pro for office 365 is available as a subscription version to Office 365 users.

Good thing which Microsoft introduce in Visio 2013 version is the introduction of the same rendering engine that Power point uses. Now, you will get the same style and diagram options in visio that you get while using power point.

Now, get past the boring way of presenting the corporate information and make it fun and easy to understand for the end-user.

Leave a comment

The importance of Press Release

Source: www.findmyart.com

Source: www.findmyart.com

Press release as the name says represents an information to be released to mass media. Traditionally, the mass media used to be news-papers only but in today’s context social networking and online platforms like website publishing has taken that position. The information that goes into press release can be of anything like launch of a new product, merger & acquisitions, critical information, results declaration, etc. The structure of information should be clear and concise and should not be vague at any cost which leads to confusion.

Press Releases for media invites

In today’s competitive world, where the timing of release of information can make or break your business, the importance of press releases has grown many folds. Taking example of a product launch, there was a time when companies simply posted press releases about the launch of new product, plain and simple and absolutely no fun. There was no concept of creating a hype among the customers.

In today’s scenario I consider Apple’s press releases to be the most ideal ones. Apple’s strategy of releasing bits and pieces of information not only creates hype among the buyers but they act as self advertising as well.

Press Release: Apple Media Invite for iphone launch

Press Release: Apple Media Invite for iphone launch

Here is the snippet of what Apple sent as media invite in 2011 launch of iPhone. You can see the strategically placed icons with specific information embedded in them. By looking at the image one can guess that on 4th of given month at 10 AM, the even occurs at Apple Headquarters (location shown in the map icon) and lastly there is something about the phone. Neither too much information is given nor too less which might put off buyer.

Another good example from Nokia on the launch of 41 megapixel Pureview phone. Nokia created the hype in market by launching 41 megapixel camera for a phone which was never unheard of before. They designed a nice press release for media invite (see image). This invite clearly specifies that there is product launch with something related to 41 megapixels. Again, this shows the right amount of information necessary to create the buzz required for new product launch.

Nokia Pureview media invite

Nokia Pureview media invite

Leave a comment

Hyperlapse App from Instagram: Speed is the new filter

Instagram recently launched a new iPhone app called Hyperlapse which allows user to record videos and apply speed filter on them and then post them onto social network. This app is the first app out side of the Instagram umbrella. Always wondered how those time lapse videos are made, well professionally that requires quite a bit of setup and a lot of patience to do the video editing work. With this app, Instagram has provided the same abilities in everyone’s hand with an iPhone. Now no more boring object tracking videos, you can really make them artistic using Hyperlapse.

What is Time Lapse photography/video

Time lapse photography is nothing but the technique of capturing frames at a much lower rate, so that once they are played back on the normal speed objects in the image appears to be moving faster. An example of Time Lapse Photography is show below

Source: reddit.com

How Instagram has altered the scene

When you shoot such images/video, there is a lot of post processing work we have to perform to make the image stable and not shaky. Hyperlapse does this automatically for you. The inbuilt algorithm works on the recorded video frames and focuses on the center of the frame and cropping the edges. In this way video appears to be steady even though it was shaky while recording. The only point a user has to keep in mind is not to keep the object in focus at the edges of the frame, because during post processing you might lose them when the edges are cropped.

Simple User Interface

Hyperlapse app user interface

Hyperlapse UI Source: wired.com

Hyperlapse UI is very simple with just one recording button at the center and after you record your video you can directly apply the speed filter (1x-12x) and then publish that video. Instagram’s engineer has done a fabulous job of keeping things simple for the user who wants to capture his/her creativity rather than dealing with the complex setup and cost issue. With this app, your simple person tracking video looks poetic too.

With the current app, if you have iphone 4 you can shoot upto 10 mins of the video and with iphone 5 upto 45 mins. I am sure user’s from other platform (read Android) will be waiting desperately to get this one and hopefully Instagram will release one soon.

Hyperlapse experience

Instagram has release a video showing the capabilities of the Hypelapse app. Here, you can easily see what a normal video looks like when shot on a regular camera and what it looks like when shot through Hyperlapse app.

SpaceX: Falcon 9 malfunction

Source: universetoday.com

Source: univertoday.com

SpaceX Falcon 9 reusable rocket suffered a setback on August 22nd 2014 when it got self destructed because of some on-board anomaly. This is the first major problem SpaceX has encountered after successive launches of their dragon space module to ISS (International Space Station).

SpaceX has been a front runner in terms of private space vehicle industry and with the development of Falcon 9 reusable rocket, they have shown that the heavy cost of space flights can be taken under control. Hopefully, this incident do not put brakes on their plans to provide the manned space flights in the near future.

The Private Space

Going to space is a costly affair and the kind of funds this industry requires can only be afforded by governments. But since last few years, we have seen some events of budget cuts in the space programs all over the world

Most prominently, NASA retired Space Shuttles from service because of high cost involved per mission. This delivered a major blow to the capabilities of space transportation but at the same time it has opened new avenues for the private players like SpaceX to jump into this lucrative market.

SpaceX was founded on the grounds of providing cheap space transportation facilities by using reusable rockets like falcon 9 and further manned mission to mars probably.

Here is a video showing the controlled test flight of Falcon 9 reusable rocket

Leave a comment

Tableau: Using Sorting and Ranking functionality on data set

Many a times when we import data set in Tableau, we simply cannot put the data as it is. Most of the times, we have to sort the data in ascending and descending order. We can perform such operations on tableau very easily.

Sorting of data set

Taking a data set of total population by country. When we simply import the data and use country name by total count of population, the visualization looks something like this

Raw data of Country wise total population

Showing this data as it it will not make any sense for the end user. As a problem statement, we want to see which country has the highest count of total population and so on. To achieve this we will try to sort this data in descending order

Sorting of data

Once you have clicked on the sorting icon, your data visualization should look something like this

Final sorted data

Now that we have the sorted data, we would like to show the Rank of the country as well. To use the rank functionality, let us first duplicate the column data. Clicking CTRL + Selecting the column data will duplicate the column data. Final result will show us two similar visulaizations

Duplicate column data

Once you have duplicated the column data, click on the corner drop down arrow and go to Quick table calculation and then further select the Rank option.

Selecting Rank

After clicking on the rank option, your data visualization should look something like this

After Ranking the data

Now, to show the rank of the country drag down the ranked calculation to row field

Changing column data to row data

If you observe here, the visualization has changed and ranked information is grouped together with the total population specific data. Although, this is the correct visualization but this will create more confusion for the end user. To make it more simpler and clear, we will be using the Discrete option.

Discrete visualization

After using the discrete option, the final visualization should look like this

Final discrete visualization